making emails public

ray ozzie: Imagine the field day that Google could have if 1) all email files had access controls removed, and 2) people started surfing each others’ email messages. Unrealistic, right? Well, think again. Why have we grown so accustomed to the social norm that email should be private?

this hits home for me. in 1999), i had similar ideas, and decided to give some of my friends access to my private email archives. i had an interesting discussion about the implications back then:
(me) my private section contains all my mails (or at least all i could save) from 1993 to present. its like a diary, only more frank and complete. so far, only one person besides me has access. i may give you access some day, but not yet.

(her) somehow this scares me. i fear that i may could do something that could destroy that fine construct of our friendship and would tear it down. this went on too fast. give me access to your personnel diary? you did even think about it a few minutes? i AM overwhelmed. in my diary are my deepest thoughts written down. not all off them, because some things are not to be held anywhere – some things will always stay in your mind. but there are things that nobody knows…..

in retrospect, the time was not yet ripe for that experiment back then. neither were there tools to discover interesting content (no google), nor was the narrative form of the blog widely known. i believe that people have become more accepting of trading in some of their privacy in exchange for other benefits. it has become acceptable to share with the world, and this process will only continue from its modest roots (“i had cereals for breakfast today” no shit!) towards more meaningful exchanges.
i have been archiving my email in IMAP for years (100 MB and growing), and it would be relatively easy to make some IMAP folders browsable and searchable from within my blog. this would be one more facet of the personal CMS, a concept that has been taking shape in my thoughts recently.

A personal CMS gives a unified interface to a users thoughts (weblog), his emails (IMAP web mail), his contacts, his schedules (Web PIM) and also his files. The personal CMS supports the discovery of information within the personal data of a user by offering pervasive rss feeds, deep searches and extensive hyperlinking.

RDF in my neighborhood

the new professor at my institute, abraham bernstein, has some very interesting research going on. i shall definitely try to attend his seminar social and economic foundations of computer science. i know i pledged never to consider a phd at university of zurich, but i could imagine a external phd in the field of semantic web. as long as i don’t have to sit at ifi all day and play underpaid secretary and handle unmotivated and lazy students, plus i don’t want to deal with office politics there. who knows, so many things to do.

webtop revitalized?

i found jon udell on zoe to be an inspiration for my thinking of what a web gui can do.

“Services could flow in the other direction, too. For example, ZOE spends a lot of time doing textual analysis of email. Most of the correlations I perform manually, using Outlook folders, could be inferred by a hypothetical version of ZOE that would group messages based on matching content in their bodies as well as in their headers, then generate titles for these groups by summarizing them. There should be no need for Outlook to duplicate these structures. ZOE could simply offer them as a metadata feed, just as it currently offers an RSS feed that
summarizes the current day’s messages.”

hmm.. xaraya running on localhost on users home computers with their idle 2 ghz cpus and connected 24 / 7 to the net.

if i think about it, i am already trying to export a better view of my thoughts / files / email / contacts / calls to the web, accessible
from everywhere (with the proper credentials).

  • thoughts -> blog
  • email -> imap web gui
  • contacts -> web gui to ldap
  • calls -> web gui for answering machine
  • files -> webDaV

unfortunately those apps are all separate at this point. there is no framework yet to embed them all.

pagerank and trust metrics

semantic web, next micro-step: pagerank meets web of trust explains the potential:


We wondered if there was any cross-pollination between the Usenet trust metrics and the Web algorithms. Would a high score for Kibo, the humorist who made his reputation on net news, feed into Kibo’s web ranking?
Cutz said it was an interesting idea.
“If you were searching for information on an intricate part of the Linux kernel you’d love to see a post by Linus on the term come up first,” he said. “We’re always looking to find a better trust metric.”

such a trust metric could maybe be provided by affero (a company i consult)

An experiment in knowledge scaling

we did it. our rainbow weblogs project is taking shape, and it seems bound to succeed.

what will really determine our success, however, will be our ability to foster a community. i plan to attack this problem with these measures:

  • Integrate Instant Messaging

    Shared experiences, instant support, quick tossing out of ideas are just some of the more obvious uses for instant messaging. to avoid the creation of yet another “ghetto”, its important to integrate IM tightly with the web by having web clients, and archiving discussions on the web.
  • Integrate Mailing Listsac

    Because email is such a handy tool, many valuable discussions are taking place via email. it is therefore important to bring these discussions on the web, to make them searchable, archive them, and accessible to a wider audience.
  • Communicate transparently

    Be it support, be it ongoing development, be it fresh ideas, most things gain value when they are unlocked from some private audience. the rule is to make it public in general, and private exceptionally.
  • Leverage RSS Content Flows

    Because activities and content are distributed,

    it is important to aggregate that content so that other can learn about it.
  • Increase Network effects

    By really pouring valuable content into the community, we hope to lower the threshold

    for others to participate. as more and more

    people participate, it becomes increasingly

    lucrative to do so.

disruptive plumbing

despite all the web services hype, there is steady progress on all fronts. while the e-commerce applications for web services have yet to emerge, there is another phenomenon brewing, almost unnoticed by the web services crowd.

besides connecting resources on the internet, web services are increasingly being found on the desktop itself, where they strive to fulfill the old promise of universal scripting. web services really could be the glue that holds it all together. perl, python, kde, visual basic, soon java, and now apple script have built-in support for web services. this creates interesting opportunities to leverage desktop automation (pioneered early on by apple with their apple script architecture, and later copied by microsoft with its windows scripting host.) apple demoed a few no-frills examples of what web services can do. very interesting stuff, especially in light of adobes recent announcement of their XMP infrastructure to provide standard metadata facilities across its product line. the semantic web is taking shape, driven by forces who would not necessarily be associated with the topic..